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College president: Improved federal rules needed to cut costs, grow online education

Excelsior College president says a tangle of regulations in the last higher-education law have proven onerous for online programs

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Thanks in part to the more than 150 new rules and regulations which emerged from the current version of the HEOA, higher education in America has never been more expensive, Ebersole writes.

While still wrestling with the many initiatives and regulations spawned by the 2007 renewal of the Higher Education and Opportunity Act (HEOA), it is already time for colleges and universities to start worrying about 2013, and how an updated HEOA could expand — or shrink — online education.

Hopefully, Congress and the U.S. Department of Education will see their coming negotiations as an opportunity, and unlike the current version, will use any new legislation to reduce the cost of education, improve access, and provide incentives for innovation.

Thanks in part to the more than 150 new rules and regulations which emerged from the current version of the HEOA, higher education in America has never been more expensive for students in the traditional lecture hall or the online classroom.

Read more about online regulations in higher education…

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While many critics would lay the blame for this at the feet of college administrators, Congress and the Obama administration must share in the blame as well. Each new regulation requires more than 4,000 accredited colleges and universities to conduct an analysis, determine applicability, and take appropriate compliance action.

Is it any wonder that administrator payrolls are increasing at double that for faculty?

In one example alone, the need to obtain separate authorization from 54 jurisdictions in order to extend federal financial aid to online students, the costs are expected to run over $500 million per year.

For many online education providers, the results of this requirement is to withdraw from jurisdictions, where requirements are especially costly or onerous, or to discontinue online offerings altogether. Thus, a single department regulation, known as “state authorization,” has increased student costs (as the expense is passed on) and reduced access to higher education.

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